Tanzanian President John Magufuli has pledged to improve the economy and complete unfinished projects during a speech that marked the launch of his re-election campaign.
Magufuli is due to face 14 challengers in his bid to secure a second term in the October 28 election. Some of his opponents include Tundu Lissu, who returned to the country from Belgium in early August where he had sought treatment after surviving a 2017 assassination attempt in which he was shot 16 times.
During his speech on Saturday, the 60-year-old Magufuli promised supporters that, should he get re-elected, his administration will focus on boosting the country’s gross domestic product and completing several projects aimed at making Tanzania “a great nation”.
“We have the capability to implement these projects. And we will implement them with speed using local resources,” Magufuli said, adding that some of the initiatives include the purchase of five new planes for the national airline, creation of jobs for eight million people and increasing tourism earnings.
Disqualified for ‘unfair reasons’
Separately, Tanzanian opposition parties on Friday said widespread irregularities had taken place in the enrolment of their candidates for elections.
Lissu said dozens of candidates from his party for both parliament and local councils had been disqualified for “unfair reasons”.
“We had 3,754 local council candidates … We have lost 30 percent of them,” he told crowds during a rally in Dar es Salaam as he called for peaceful demonstrations.
Lissu also said that out of 244 candidates presented for parliament, 53 had been disqualified and that he had demanded that the electoral commission reinstate them.
Another opposition party, the Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT-Wazalendo), also denounced on Friday that most of their candidates had been “objected” to.
Members of the opposition have called for the formation of an independent electoral commission, expressing fears the elections will take place in a climate of violence and intimidation. Magufuli has pledged “free and fair” polls.
The president, who took office in 2015 promising to crack down on corruption and expand the country’s road and railway network, has been accused of narrowing freedoms and increasing authoritarianism.
During his first term, newspapers have been shut down, and the work of non-governmental organisations has been severely restricted, with rights groups and opposition parties accusing Magufuli’s government of curbing human rights. The government has denied seeking to stifle dissent.